Santa Barbara’s weekly Sunday event might be back sooner than expected
COVID-19 interrupted a 54-year-old Sunday tradition in Santa Barbara.
Every Sunday, at least every Sunday before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order in March, artists have gathered along a long stretch of Cabrillo Boulevard to sell their goods and mingle with customers who come from nearby cities and faraway places.
Judith Geiger misses them.
She misses the customers who inspired her kiln-formed glass works, including fish-themed art, at the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show. As one of the 140 artists with a booth, she misses talking about art with people who want to meet artists and learn about the creative process.
“Having a new audience for my work every week keeps me motivated and inspired,” the Santa Barbara artist told the News-Press, as she and other artists gathered for interviews by local sculptor “Bud” Bottoms’ dolphins statue in front of Stearns Wharf.
Now there’s hope that the show will return, possibly sooner than expected.
“Originally we were thinking this was going to be Stage 3,” Jason S. Bryan, senior recreation supervisor with the city of Santa Barbara, told the News-Press by Mr. Bottoms’ iconic landmark. Mr. Bryan was referring to the stages of reopenings during the pandemic.
“But it sounds like this will be later Stage 2,” he said, although he added he can’t predict a date at this point.
“It could be a matter of weeks. I’m hoping it’s not months,” Mr. Bryan said. “These are 140 small business owners. I want to get them back into business as soon as we can.”
Many of the show’s self-employed artists depend on the show as their primary source of income, Marilyn Dannehower, chair of the show’s ad hoc advertising committee, told the News-Press.
She said she hopes the show will reopen this summer.
Mr. Bryan said the city regularly gets information from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and has developed reopening protocols that are being reviewed.
He said he’s encouraged by the progress of reopenings facilities such as the city’s Los Banos Pool, which became available last week for lap swimming.
Mr. Bryan said the art show’s booths, which vary from 10 to 25 feet wide, are already designed for social distancing. He added that artists will be required to wear masks.
Mrs. Dannehower noted the ease of social distancing “for outdoor event like ours that is widely spaced out, when it’s more like a farmers’ market situation. We’re not that tight.
“We don’t have rows. We string way, way down from Stearns Wharf to almost as far as Fess Parker’s,” she said, referring to the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.
Mrs. Dannehower said the show offers customers and artists some one-on-one experience.
“Everybody who’s selling something has to be the maker of that work. They can’t be selling for somebody else,”she said.
Mrs. Dannehower, who creates jewelry, mosaics and paintings,, said she and other artists enjoy the contact with customers. “Most of us are pretty friendly and outgoing. You meet a lot of new people. It’s a very, very low-key sale situation. The customers are actually meeting the artists.
“People come from all over California for the show. I have customers I see two or three times a year, and they’re coming from Chicago,”: she said.
“It’s going to be so important to us when we open to have Santa Barbarans there. We could really use the support of the locals. It’s going to be a while before we get a lot of tourists.”